the state of being content

I am trying to embrace contentment. To truly embrace being happy with what I have and the circumstances in which I find myself.

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Which means I am trying to embrace this apartment as home.

This apartment with the hot water heater in my closet. This apartment with no dishwasher or garbage disposal, with barely usable cabinets, and horribly inefficient refrigerator. This apartment with a tub that doesn’t drain well, with a porch that fills with water when it rains and then floods the downstairs neighbor’s kitchen . This apartment that is crammed full with our stuff, especially in the spare bedroom that doubles as a garage (and has boxes of my teaching materials piled to the ceiling).

I have struggled to embrace this apartment since the day we signed the lease. Our one year in our other apartment turned into four, and I kept consoling myself by saying that the next place would be better.

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And then we moved 1,000 miles away to a town where good, affordable rentals are in high demand but low supply. We stepped out in faith, which included trusting that God would provide the money to pay our bills (since we’ve both left “stable” jobs in the last couple of years in order to pursue a dream). So we chose the budget-friendly option (not to mention, we only had a weekend to find a place and sign a lease, and this was one of two available options at the time).

Because of this, I have refused to settle in. I have not hung a single picture on the wall, “because hopefully we’re not staying in this apartment through the winter.” I have refused to be creative in trying to find homes for all the little random things, “because I just can’t make it work!”

And I have complained. Loudly. And often. Because I think I am entitled to something more…just because I exist.

At the beginning of July, I was feeling convicted on this subject, and looked up Scripture on contentment and thankfulness. I even wrote down verses on cards, but haven’t sought to apply them with any sort of diligence.

My perspective is (very) slowly starting to shift, though. I’ve read blog posts by others who have honestly wrestled with the same issue, and found encouragement from them. I have visited with people in a home that was cozy but had a warm, well-lived-in feeling.  And there were no apologies for what it lacked materially because the hearts of the hosts were hospitable and generous to share what they have. There was no sense that anything could be considered lacking.

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My home will be hospitable if my heart is–even if my furniture is mismatched and well-worn.  Even if my space is cramped.  Even if comfortable chairs are in short supply.  Even if my bath towels are stored on an open shelf, visible from the living room couch. Really, does it matter? Not all that much.

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(By the way, I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I have a lot of beauty around me to appreciate. Every single day.)

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A Family Visit

This is what happens when you ask your (very) generous parents to bring you some good Colorado beer when they visit:

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We had an awesome week with my family (minus my sister), which we spent hiking, swimming, canoeing, sightseeing, eating, biking, and just hanging out.

Sometimes words get in the way, so here are some of the highlights in pictures.

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it’s a small world after all…

Hopefully the song won’t be stuck in your head for too long…

I have all sorts of weird connections with people I know, and I used to think it was because I lived in the same chunk of Northern Colorado for 27 years (my whole entire life, minus the last two months).  Really, though, the world isn’t always as big as it seems.

Thus follows a funny story centered around this guy, Martin’s Pugsley.

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We joke that he makes us instant friends everywhere he goes with us.

We rode our bikes to church on Sunday (Martin was on the Pug), and afterward ended up talking with a couple who had been desperately trying to figure out who we were all morning by texting friends pictures of the bike and describing any person in church that they didn’t recognize.  They waited around and made a beeline for us as soon as we went to our bikes.  We talked with them for a while, exchanged phone numbers, and got invited to a small group (we’ve been just waiting for an invitation from someone!).

Here’s where things get crazy. We went to small group on Tuesday, which happened to be hosted at the home of THE guy in the valley who is completely obsessed with fat bikes (he’s famous around these parts).  Barely had introductions started and D. (aka fat bike aficionado) starts asking us details about our car, and if we happened to visit in March.  He whipped out his phone and showed us a picture he took of our car (with bikes–including the Pugsley–on top) when we were visiting the area for the first time a few month ago.  He had posted the picture on Facebook, asking friends who from Colorado was visiting.  Further into the conversation, we realize that we had met his wife while riding one of the local trails when we were here again in May.  As it turns out, this couple is also from Colorado, went to college at CSU, and went to church at Summitview and The Rock!

Everyone else in the group was laughing and trying to assure us that they don’t usually stalk people.

By the end of the night (we stayed late…after well-past the 10 o’clock whistle), it started to feel like we hadn’t moved 1,000 miles away from home.  The world seemed to shrink a bit as we laughed and talked with people with common interests and random connections that we didn’t expect–and all because of Martin’s bike!